The Do 1 Thing site won the Awareness to Action category of FEMA’s 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. It’s a 12-month program of small steps that you can take to increase your personal and household preparedness. Throughout 2015, DEM will feature Do 1 Thing items during our weekly blog post series of One Thing Wednesdays. Check back here every week for a new preparedness activity or tip!
It’s April, which means the local food scene is blooming along with the flowers. The Lexington Farmers’ Market is moving back outdoors, food trucks are rolling out, and it’s warm enough for grilling. Accordingly, April’s theme is food: how to keep yourself and your household fed in an emergency.
As we mentioned in February’s introduction to emergency water reserves, emergency managers recommend having at least a three-day supply of critical resources. This winter’s recent snow events should serve as a reminder that normal supply systems can be disrupted – and even if stores are stocked and open, you may not be able to get to them. Really, we’d prefer you to have two to three weeks worth of supplies if your budget and storage space allow – though don’t go so far that your guest bedroom looks like the warehouse to the right!
You know better than anyone else how much food your household needs per day. Base your plans on normal eating habits – and remember that family members who normally eat one or more meals at school or work will most likely be home all day in a situation that requires you to break into your reserves. Do 1 Thing recommends that you follow the BUS rule – Balance, Usability, and Shelf Life.
When you’re grocery shopping on a normal day, you try to provide a balanced diet for your household. Emergency food supplies should be no different, taking into account each of the basic food groups. Balanced nutrition is even more important in an emergency or high-stress situation when normal routines are disrupted, and this goes double for people with health conditions that stress can aggravate. Be sure to include high-energy foods (e.g., nuts, protein bars, other athletic/performance snacks) and comfort foods (again, you know your household’s eaters best here).
If grocery stores are closed or you can’t get to them, there’s a good chance that electricity, gas, and/or water supplies may be disrupted. That means you may not be able to use your kitchen as you normally would. When you stock your emergency pantry, choose foods that don’t need refrigeration and don’t need heat or a lot of water to prepare. This includes canned or dried meats, vegetables, and fruits, dry cereal (perhaps with some shelf-stable milk boxes), and preserved meat.
If you stock canned goods, be sure you have a manual can opener. If you don’t use it regularly, store it with your canned food.
Later this month, we’ll talk more about disaster cooking solutions.
You want your emergency food to be safe and edible when you use it. Before buying, look at the expiration date on each package. Try to choose foods with longer shelf lives. Whenever you can, select foods that your household will eat anyway, then use and replace them before they expire. Set a calendar reminder every three to six months to go through your emergency foods and check their expiration dates, just in case.